Tuesday, December 16, 2008
lee douglas interview
Lee Douglas - "Fuego"
Lee Douglas is a busy guy. A graphic designer by day, he not only juggles his own productions and remixes (see his "Happy House" remix for starters), but makes some fine edits to boot. His edits of Eddie Kendricks and Teddy Pendergrass are top-notch, and it's without fail that whenever I drop his edit of Fuego's "Misa Criolia (We Are The Children)" someone rushes the decks.
What kind of stuff did you get into first?
I was into punk, big time. hardcore punk. I graduated ’94.
What were you checking out?
I went to Jabberjaw every week. That whole first wave of emo, Gravity stuff. Universal of Armageddon. It was pretty cool. For that stuff, there’s a lot of backyard shows and seven inches.
Did you play in a hardcore band?
I had a band for a minute. I was the singer (both of us laugh). I just played 3-4 shows then started college. I got more into DJing and electronic stuff then.
What got you into it?
Raves and shit like that.
Were they an extension of the feeling of punk rock shows for you?
I guess it was communal in that way but I didn’t make any connections. I never bought the records, I just went to desert parties. It was more like “Let’s go to a rave in the desert.” Warehouse parties in LA were too overblown, those big raves, stupid big productions. I got into records. I got into digging for records. That time it was big to play jazz and funk. More people were digging for that shit. It was definitely a hip-hop thing. We were trying to get Moog, weirdo synth records. I liked psych rock. jazz records got really expensive around the mid-90s. I just started picking up disco records. People would just give away 50 cent disco records.
I feel that most renaissances these days come from, as certain titles get pricey, people gravitate towards whatever’s cheap and find something to gleam from them.
It’s basically what I did. I just got into disco just because the other shit was too expensive. There were a lot of crossover records. Dexter Wansel, Lonnie Liston Smith, big jazz breaks that David Mancuso would play.
How did you find out about Mancuso and that sort of stuff?
There was a resurgence then. This was probably 2000 something, when those Strut/ Nuphonic comps came back out. I think a big thing for me was that first Keep on Jumping compilation. It has every classic New York jam.
Digging for cheap records, were you just looking for breaks?
I was DJing and there were some disco records that fit into that category, like Sylvia Striplin and shit like that. you start grabbing more of that. I started DJing breaks and stuff, rare grooves. When I was playing disco records, I didn’t know anyone else that was playing them.
What was the response in LA?
It was always just a small group of friends. It wasn’t like I had a night in a big room.
Does LA have much of a disco history to it?
I have no idea. There’s a big gay community in West Hollywood, but I have no idea.
Were you excited about the history of NYC's disco culture when you moved out here?
Definitely. That was what I was into. Body and Soul was still going on. There was a lot of, it just seemed more a viable thing. I didn’t really move out here specifically for that, but it was a perk.
What do you like about disco?
I don’t know. I just like the feel of it. it’s not just disco either, it’s just dance music that’s a little bit more emotionally-driven. Not just pounding tracks. Disco has more dimensionality.
I like the utopic vibe of it.
At what point did you cop to edits and how that stuff was made?
There wasn’t pre-meditation. The edits thing has been going on since the beginning. Fuck, if you want to go back, the whole reason why disco was invented was because of edits. Edits created disco rather than the other way around. Let’s edit this and make it longer. I have records from ’76 that are edits. You can hear the chops in them. Tom Moulton edited the record after the record was made. In essence, disco was created from an edit.
Whats an early edit you did?
Lamont Dozier “Going Back to My Roots.” I liked that end bit and wanted to make it longer. It would go into that part and I would keep that going. That was the first thing I did. That was just an exercise. Around that Nuphonic time, those could be thought of as edits. It’s really disco. That time disco and that form of house…Idjut Boys were doing bootlegs then. But I wasn’t hip to (DJ Harvey's) Black Cock series of edits then.
Do you perceive edits as tool or an end of itself?
It's both. It just depends what you’re editing a record for. I’ve done edits to make it more dancefloor-friendly. You just want to chop up and shit.
Is it weird that edits are its own genre and fetish thing?
I don’t really care. If there’s a good edit, I buy it. What’s annoying is how much people hype them. I don’t get it… If you don’t like it, don’t buy it. In a way, when people edit obscure expensive records but barely do any edits or treatments, that’s as annoying as editing...Michael Jackson. The problem is what I consider silly about it, people do edits for the sake of copping a name for themselves. There’s no fucking rules.
Are edits just to get peoples’ attentions, your own productions, what?
I just…my reason is my DJ set. I’ll play whatever I decide to play. If it fits in, that’s what I’m going to do. If I hear a song that needs to be changed, that’s why I do it.
Is there ever a copyright issue for you?
It never becomes a copyright thing because you don’t sell enough for it be a thing. No one’s making money on it. There’s not that much money.
How long do you spend making an edit?
That depends on what I decide to do. Sometimes they take an hour, sometimes a year. It’s good and it’s bad. Nobody can really say anything. There’s a lot of wack edits out there and wack people doing edits for wack reasons. And that’s going to just keep on happening. I like those edits by Mark E., Eric Duncan’s edits, Thomas Bullock’s edits are awesome, too.
I’ve done a lot of edits that I want to put out, but... it’s more because I’m not on top of it, or thinking about it that much. I’ll do the edit and then I forget about it. I want to put out some edits that I’ve done but honestly, I’m not in a hurry. Josh and Jacques are active in doing it. That’s why they put out my own edits. Let's just say I like good edits and I like to play edits.